Gender-based violence glossary



Ableism (capacitisme)
Set of prejudicial and discriminatory beliefs and behaviours that devalues people living with developmental, emotional, physical, or mental disabilities.
Ageism (âgisme)
Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age. Ageism is a widespread practice which negatively affects the health and wellbeing of older adults.Footnote 1


Biphobia (biphobie)
Fear and/or hatred of bisexuality, often exhibited by acts of name-calling, bullying, exclusion, prejudice, discrimination or through acts of violence. Anyone who is or is assumed to be bisexual or experiences attraction to multiple sexes and/or genders can be the target of biphobia.Footnote 2


Cisgender (cisgenre)
Person whose gender identity and gender expression aligns with their sex assigned at birth.
Classism (classisme)
Set of negative beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours, as well as systems of practices that devalue, exploit, and exclude people viewed as being from a lower social standing or class.
Colonialism (colonialisme)
Attempted or actual imposition of policies, laws, the economies, cultures or systems, and institutions put in place by settler governments to support and continue the occupation of Indigenous territories, the subjugation of Indigenous nations, and the resulting internalized and externalized thought patterns that support this occupation and subjugation.Footnote 3
Consent (consentement)
Defined in the Criminal Code as the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question at the time the activity takes place. This means that all parties must actively, willingly, and continuously give consent to the sexual activity. Consent cannot be assumed or implied, and an unconscious person is not capable of giving consent.
Culturally safe approaches (approches respectueuses de la culture)
Approaches that recognize and challenge unequal power relations between service providers and survivors by building equitable, two-way relationships characterized by respect, shared responsibility, and cultural exchange. Survivors must have their culture, values, and preferences taken into account in the provision of services.


Emotional / psychological abuse (maltraitance émotionnelle / psychologique)
Use of words or actions to control or frighten a family member or intimate partner, or to lower their self-respect and self-esteem. It includes, but is not limited to insults, belittling, constant humiliation, intimidation, threats to harm, threats to take away children, harm or threats to harm pets.Footnote 4


Family violence (violence familiale)
Any form of abuse or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationshipFootnote 5, whether current or former.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) (mutilation génitale féminine (MGF))
When the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a girl or woman is excised, infibulated or mutilated, in whole or in part for non-medical reasons. FGM/C is a form of aggravated assault and is a crime in Canada. It is also an offence to take a child out of Canada for the purpose to have FGM/C performed in another country.
Financial abuse (also referred to as economic abuse) (exploitation financière, également appelée violence économique)
Occurs when an individual uses money, assets or property to control or exploit another individual.
Forced marriage (mariage forcé)
Marriage that takes place without the free and informed consent of one or both individuals getting married, and sometimes occurs through emotional coercion, threats, physical violence or abduction. Forced marriage is not the same as arranged marriage, in which the individuals consent to the marriage. Forcing someone to marry is a criminal offence in Canada.


Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) (analyse comparative entre les sexes plus (ACS+))
Analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ means that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences and includes the multiple identity factors that intersect to make a person who they are, including race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.
Gender (genre)
Gender refers to the roles, behaviours, expressions, and identities that society have associated to girls, women, boys, men, and gender-diverse people. A society’s understanding of gender changes over time and varies from culture to culture. Gender influences how people perceive themselves and each other, how they act and interact, the distribution of power and resources in society, and people’s social, health and economic outcomes. 
Gender-based violence (violence fondée sur le sexe)
Violence based on gender norms and unequal power dynamics, perpetrated against someone based on their gender, gender expression, gender identity, or perceived gender. It takes many forms, including physical, economic, sexual, as well as emotional (psychological) abuse.
Gender expression (expression de genre)
Manner in which a person presents and communicates gender in a social context. Gender can be expressed through clothing, speech, body language, hairstyle, voice, and/or the emphasis or de-emphasis of bodily characteristics or behaviours, which are often associated with masculinity and femininity. Gender expression varies depending on culture and may change over time. May also be referred to as gender presentation or gender performance.Footnote 2
Gender identity (identité de genre)
Person’s internal and individual experience of gender. This could include an internal sense of being a man, woman, both, neither or another gender entirely. A person’s gender identity may or may not correspond with social expectations associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Since gender identity is internal, it is not necessarily visible to others. It is important to remember that gender identity is not the same as sex/assigned sex.Footnote 2
Gender norms (normes de genre)
Expectations and stereotypes about behaviours, actions and roles that are linked to being a ‘man’ or ‘woman’ in a particular society. Gender norms contribute to power imbalances and gender inequality at home, at work and in communities.Footnote 6


Homophobia (homophobie)
Range of negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours directed towards people perceived as LGBTQ2 (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two-Spirit people), with resulting systemic effects of prejudice, discrimination, and violence.
“Honour” based violence (HBV) (violence fondée sur « l’honneur » (VFH))
Term used internationally and refers to premeditated violence committed against a family member, usually female, who is perceived to have brought shame or dishonour to her family by engaging in, or rumoured to have engaged in, disapproved conduct, such as having sexual relationships outside marriage. Some people in collectivist communities believe that violence will restore family honour. HBV can constitute a range of crimes such as forced confinement, assault, and killing. HBV has been treated with severity in Canadian courts. HBV is a controversial term that may fuel discrimination against collectivist communities, giving the false impression that violence is more prevalent among those who live by honour codes. In fact, gender-based violence occurs in all communities, all around the world.
Human trafficking (also referred to as trafficking in persons) (traite des personnes - également appelée trafic des personnes)
Human trafficking, also referred to as trafficking in persons, involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing, harbouring, or exercising control, direction or influence over a person, for the purpose of exploitation, generally for sexual exploitation or forced labour.Footnote 7


Intersectionality (intersectionnalité)
Approach to analyzing social relations and structures in a given society. Intersectional approaches recognize that every person’s identity is made up of multiple identity categories such as (but not limited to) ability, attraction, body size, citizenship, class, creed, ethnicity, gender expression, gender identity, race, religion. The ways a person may experience systemic privilege and oppression are affected by the intersection of these identity categories, depending on how they are valued by social institutions.Footnote 2
Intersex (intersexué)
An umbrella term to capture various types of biological sex differentiation. Intersex people have variations in their sex characteristics, such as sex chromosomes, internal reproductive organs, genitalia, and/or secondary sex characteristics (e.g. muscle mass, breasts) that fall outside of what is typically categorized as male or female.Footnote 8
Intimate partner violence (also referred to as domestic violence or spousal violence) (violence entre partenaires intimes, parfois aussi appelée violence conjugale)
Physical, sexual, emotional (psychological) or financial harm done by a current or former intimate partner(s) or spouse(s). Intimate partner violence can happen in a marriage, common-law or dating relationship; in a heterosexual or LGBTQ2 (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two-Spirit) relationship; at any time in a relationship, including after it has ended; and, whether or not partners live together or are sexually intimate with one another.


LGBTQ2 (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two-Spirit) (LGBTQ2, personnes lesbiennes, gaies, bisexuelles, transgenres, queers et bispirituelles)
Term that refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two-Spirit people. There are multiple variations of this acronym to also include: intersex, questioning, asexual and allies.


Preferred pronouns (also referred to as gender pronouns) (pronoms privilégiés, également appelés pronoms de genre)
Third-person pronouns that an individual prefers for others to use when identifying the individual. These can include but are not limited to: she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, ze/zie, hir/hirs, xe/xem/xyr.
Physical abuse (maltraitance, violence physique)
Intentional use or threatened use of physical force against a family member or intimate partner. It includes, but is not limited to, pushing, hitting, cutting, punching, slapping, shoving, and strangulation.


Queer (queer)
Umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender.


Racism (racisme)
Systemic subordination, oppression, and exploitation of specific groups of people based on perceived physical (for example, skin colour) and/or cultural characteristics. Racism is rooted in beliefs and behaviours that assume the biological or cultural superiority of one racial group over others, resulting in power and privilege for the dominant group and unequal treatment and limited opportunities for oppressed groups.


Sex (sexe)
Refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define males, females and intersex persons. There is variation in the biological attributes that comprise sex and how those attributes are expressed differently which lead to characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. 
Sexism (sexisme)
Prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender, particularly against women and girls.
Sexual assault (agression sexuelle)
Any unwanted sexual activity involving physical contact (including kissing, fondling, and sexual intercourse).
Sexual exploitation (exploitation sexuelle)
Sexual abuse of children and youth through the exchange of sex or sexual acts for drugs, food, shelter, protection, or other basics of life, and/or money. Sexual exploitation includes involving children and youth in creating pornography and sexually explicit websites.
Sexual harassment (harcèlement sexuel)
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other forms of verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can involve an abuse of power and is often used as a way of controlling or intimidating someone.Footnote 9
Sexual orientation (orientation sexuelle)
Term used to describe a pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions. Sexual orientations can include, but are not limited to, heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, pansexual, polysexual, queer.
Sexual violence (violence sexuelle)
Sexual act without consent, attempt to obtain a sexual act, threat to obtain a sexual act, or unwanted sexual comments or advances, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim / survivor in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.Footnote 10 Footnote 11
Survivor (personne survivante)
Term that describes someone who has experienced interpersonal violence. This term can be preferred to victim as it reflects the reality that many individuals who experience abuse cope and move on with personal strength, and resourcefulness.Footnote 12


Technology-facilitated violence (also referred to as cyberviolence) (violence facilitée par la technologie, également appelé cyberviolence)
Range of behaviours that use technology to facilitate virtual and/or in-person harm. The intent of technology-facilitated violence is to threaten, harass, bully, embarrass, assault, extort, coerce, torment or socially exclude another person by using technology.
Transgender/Trans (transgenre/trans)
Term used to define people who have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their sex assigned at birth.
Transphobia (transphobie)
Fear and/or hatred of any transgression of perceived gender norms. It is often exhibited by name-calling, bullying, exclusion, prejudice, discrimination or acts of violence. Anyone who is trans and/or gender diverse or perceived to be can be the target of transphobia.Footnote 2
Trauma- and violence-informed care (TVIC) (soins tenant compte des traumatismes et de la violence (STCTV))
Expands the concept of trauma-informed care to emphasize the intersecting impacts of systemic and interpersonal violence and structural inequities on a person’s life. This concept acknowledges both historical and ongoing interpersonal violence and their traumatic impacts and helps to emphasize a person’s experiences of past and current violence. This way problems are not seen as residing only in the person’s psychological state but also in social circumstances.Footote 13
Two-Spirit (or 2-Spirit) (bispirituel)
English umbrella term that reflects the many words used in different Indigenous languages to affirm the interrelatedness of multiple aspects of identity including gender, sexuality, community, culture and spirituality. Some Indigenous people identify as Two-Spirit rather than, or in addition to, identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.Footnote 2


Underage marriage (mariage précoce)
Marriage in which one or both of the spouses are below the minimum legal age of marriage in the jurisdiction in which they reside. In Canada, the national minimum legal age for marriage is 16. Each province and territory has additional legal requirements for marriage, for anyone between the age 16 and the age of majority. Underage marriage is a criminal offence in Canada. Internationally the term child marriage is often used and refers to marriage in which one or both spouses are under the age of 18. Child marriage is perpetuated by gender inequality and poverty.


Victim (victime)
Defined in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and the Criminal Code as an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss as a result of a crime. Some victims prefer to identify as a survivor.

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